YAM virtual exhibit

Artwork from McFarland second grader, Kendall H.

March is Youth Art Month, and the festivities have officially started at McFarland School District.

With roots traced as far back as the 1960s, Youth Art Month (YAM) was organized in a collaboration between the Crayon company and the National Art Education Association as an initiative to encourage early participation in the arts.

In a typical year, MSD would have hosted an in-person celebration for YAM, though 2021 is anything but typical.

“In years past, we usually have around 200 community members attend our [art month] open house at the McFarland E.D. Locke Public Library,” said Lindy Wiesmann, an art, graphic design and photography teacher at McFarland High School.

This year, the district is hosting a virtual art show where students can showcase various art projects in an online format. The district’s art department has put together a series of four slideshow presentations, one for each McFarland school, that showcases submitted art projects from students at every building.

The district’s art teachers said their students have adapted well to the fluctuation in learning models caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and, in spite of the challenges, learning art through a computer has inspired further creativity.

“The McFarland Art Department really wanted to find a way to showcase our student work, and despite the difficulties of virtual learning, our artists made some really amazing art,” said Sandy Schoen, an art instructor at Indian Mound Middle School.

Four of the McFarland High School students participating this in YAM year – Rachel Dorn, Mackenzie Rynes, Jenna Hacker and Natalie Branch – were selected for display in the Southwest Regional Art Show, with artwork from Dorn, Hacker, and Branch recognized as state qualifiers.

Dorn and Rynes

Dorn, a state quailifier, featured in the Southwest Regional Art Show.

Hacker and Branch

Hacker and Branch, both state qualifiers, featured in the Southwest Regional Art Show.

Wiesmann said she’s hopeful that the virtual nature of this year’s event will provide more widespread exposure for McFarland’s student artists.

“With the entire event being virtual this year, we are hopeful that even more people will have the opportunity to view the Youth Art Month slideshow on their own time and at their own pace,” Weismann said. “Within minutes of sharing our slideshow with the staff, a number of teachers had positive feedback on the artwork the students had made.”

Despite the extra work needed to make this year’s YAM event possible, according to Wiesmann, it was every bit worth it.

“While a lot of work went into making the event virtual, it was absolutely worth it. Our art students are some of the most compassionate, talented, and well-rounded individuals, and we are extremely lucky to have them as students,” she said.

Links to the YAM slideshows, including the Southwest Regional Art Show, can be found on McFarland High School’s Facebook page.

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